In today’s technological environment, misappropriations of technology in the lucrative software industry are a growing concern for copyright and intellectual property reasons. Intellectual property law, therefore, which deals with trademarks, copyrights, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets is an area of law that is only expected to grow.
Recently, the software giant Oracle Corp. received a US$ 1.3 billion payout from rival company SAP AG after a federal jury in Oakland found the company to be using Oracle Corporation’s products without authorisation. This is just one example of a case involving IP law. And, with the increasing controversy and regulation around IP law, and the numerous challenges that the internet and technological changes pose to issues regarding intellectual property, legal jobs in this sector will continue to be important for the creative and technological industries.
If you’re interested in pursuing IP law as a career, here’s a breakdown of some of a few of the main areas and issues you’ll be dealing with.
– Copyright – Copyright is a form of intellectual property recognised under the Berne Convention that protects a specific physical medium, as opposed to the information or idea. Copyright protects literary works, dramatic works, musical works and artistic works as well as films, sound recordings and broadcasts. In the current age, copyright law is often associated with issues that the internet poses in regards to the illegal copying and downloading of music and video content.
– Patents – Patents are issued by governments to protect original inventions from being made, used or sold for a predetermined period of time. Usually, a patent is granted in return for public disclosure of that invention. Lawyers and legal representation is extremely important when it comes to negotiating and setting the conditions and terms of a patent.
– Trademarks – Trademarks are the distinctive signs, logos, images or names used by and recognised as representing a business, individual or legal entity. The owner of a trademark has legal rights to that image or logo, and trademark law is concerned with protecting those rights.
IP law is a growing area of legal practice and you’ll find plenty of legal jobs in the sector. Issues regarding intellectual property in the digital age are expected to grow, and as such it is an area of law that presents growth opportunities for lawyers. If you’re interested in IP law jobs, then online job boards such as twosteps can give a good overview of what kind of jobs and roles are available.